Messi, Ronaldo, Lewandowski: Who has the most goal contributions in the 21st century?

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Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's dominance has been one of the defining narratives of 21st century football. 

The revered duo are two of the greatest players to grace the game, and both have toppled countless records while capturing the imagination of fans across the globe. 

Goals and assists have been racked up at never-before-seen speeds and few players can come close in terms of raw output. 

As chief goal scorers, forwards are normally the players who naturally occupy the limelight.

However, a poster on Reddit has steered some of that attention away from Messi and Ronaldo by looking at the most potent players from defence through to attack. 

By adding together the total number of goals and assists each individual player has amassed since the turn of the century, the poster has named the top five players with the highest total return across three key areas.

The poster has drawn upon stats from Transfermarkt and WhoScored to provide the data and has only counted senior goals for club and country. 

There is also a section for goal contribution ratio, which is calculated by dividing the total number of goals and assists by the number of appearances. 

The data is split into three sections, defenders, midfielders and attackers, rather than looking at each position individually. 

Let's start with defenders. With a grand total of 251 contributions, which includes 185 assists, Dani Alves is the most prolific defender since the year 2000. 

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The goal-hungry Sergio Ramos is in third place with 173 contributions in all, while Marcelo - who has the best ratio (0.31) on the list - and Real Madrid icon Roberto Carlos follow in fourth and fifth place respectively. 

Having played a large portion of his career before the turn of the millennium, the fact Carlos has made it onto the list is an incredible achievement in itself.

Jesus Navas, meanwhile, sneaks into a rather dubious second.

The diminutive Spaniard spent much of his career as a winger before converting to full-back upon his return to Sevilla, so the legitimacy of his ranking here is certainly up for debate. 

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Boasting a career total of 444 goal contributions, Frank Lampard tops the midfielder list ahead of his compatriot and career nemesis Steven Gerrard, who occupies fourth with 391 contributions. 

Angel Di Maria is closing in on top spot with 419 and at 33 years old you'd expect the Argentine to usurp Lampard before retiring from the game. 

Franck Ribery (394) occupies third with the best ratio on the list (0.58) and Cesc Fabregas's return of 382 puts him into the fifth and final position. 

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As for the forwards, a battle between Messi and Ronaldo is to be expected and that's exactly what we've got.

It's the ethereal Barcelona legend who claims the crown with an all-time total of 1070 contributions, edging out Ronaldo (1038) in second.

Messi also boasts a superior ratio (1.17) to Ronaldo, whose return of a goal contribution every 0.98 games puts him level with Luis Suarez. 

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The Uruguayan is in third place having racked up 766 goal contributions but Zlatan Ibrahimovic isn't far behind on 751. 

There is a significant gap between Ibrahimovic and Bundesliga goal-machine Robert Lewandowski, who has notched 630 goals and assists in 708 career appearances. 

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Let's start with an easy one. Which footballer do these eyes belong to?

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